Sunday, February 18, 2007

Campaign Trail: John McCain Spells Out The Answers For Us

From the Associated Press:

Crowd's Questions Indicate Senator's Presidential Bid May Be Tied Closely to War

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 18, 2007; A08

DES MOINES, Feb. 17 -- The war in Iraq followed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to Iowa on Saturday, as the Republican presidential candidate faced a series of skeptical questions about the lack of progress in the conflict and whether he or anyone has a plan for success.

…there was no escaping a debate over the war, even before a largely Republican audience that included veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relatives.

…(McCain) said Americans are understandably frustrated because of overly optimistic expectations raised by defenders of the war.

"We raised people's expectations -- 'mission accomplished,' 'few dead-enders,' 'last throes' -- all of those comments that made Americans believe that we were on the verge of getting this thing done," he said. Instead, he added, the war has been a "long, tough struggle that we should have told the American people about."

…McCain said he has no fallback plan if the policy of sending an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq fails…

…A man who said his son had served in Afghanistan and Iraq challenged McCain to explain what it would cost the country to succeed in Iraq. McCain said he didn't know...

…"In terms of dollars and lives, I can't give you an estimate, except to say, sir, I think it's going to be very expensive," he said, "but not as expensive as the bloodletting, the killing fields that will take place in Baghdad if we just left…"

…"Whether you like him or not, McCain has been consistent on issues," Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) said.

(We take you now to the McCain campaign strategy meeting—held the night before that question and answer session in Iowa--where Senator McCain is being prepped by aides for the kind of questions he will be receiving the next day.)

Aide: Okay, Senator. Suppose someone at the question and answer session stands up and asks you why the country isn’t supporting the Iraq war anymore?
McCain: Uhh…I tell him it’s because we’ve been lying to the American public all along.
Aide: Very good! You want to spin that answer out a bit?
McCain: Sure. I say, uh, that for years we’ve been lying to the public about how the war’s going, we gave them false hope with all that -- 'mission accomplished,' 'few dead-enders,' 'last throes' – bullshit, all of those comments that made Americans believe that we were on the verge of getting this thing done—
Aide: Excellent, but lose the word “bullshit,” say “raised false expectations,” instead. They’ll take that to mean “bullshit.” Otherwise, perfect!
McCain: Okay. Gimme the next question.
Aide: Right. Someone in the audience asks you: “Senator McCain—if this surge of 21,500 US troops you supported doesn’t work, what is your fallback plan?”
McCain: I say, “I haven’t got one. I haven’t got a fallback plan.”
Aide: Perfect. That answer is gonna go over VERY big with these voters, believe you me. Now—
McCain: Are you sure this is going to work? This “I don’t know, I can’t say, we were lying, I don’t have a plan” stuff?
Aide: It’ll work like a charm. That’s what the voters want from Republicans right now—candor. Anyway, let’s keep going, answer this one: A man in the audience stands up and tells you he’s got a son serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and he asks you “What would it take for this country to succeed in Iraq?”
McCain: I tell him “I don’t know.”
Aide: Right! Because?
McCain: Because I DON’T know.
Aide: Exactly! And if he asks you how much it’s going to cost in dollars and cents?
McCain: “I don’t know.”
Aide: And if he asks you how much it’s going to cost in American lives?
McCain: “I don’t know.” Can I tell him it will cost MORE in dollars and American lives if we pull out now?
Aide: Yes, but what if he asks you “How do you know that?”
McCain: I say, “I don’t know.”
Aide: Would you launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran to destroy their nuclear program?
McCain: “I don’t know. I don’t have a plan.”
Aide: Brilliant. You stick to these kind of answers, the nomination’s in the bag, Senator.
McCain: Why?
Aide: Because no one will ever be able to say “John McCain is inconsistent on the issues.” You NEVER knew the goddamn answer to ANYTHING.



At 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All McCain seems sure about is his name. Unless he's got one of those name tattoos on his ass to remind him when he looks in the mirror. "Nhoj NiaCcM. Excellent, I'll know then they're asking ME questions!"

At 2:05 AM, Blogger Prendergast said...

What's funny is, I have had a lot of respect for McCain.

He is a real person, as opposed to GWB and lot of the more conservative GOP. He is a thinker and he was pretty independent up until he got serious about trying to be President--and he's got a record of honorable service to his country. (He almost had a criminal record with that Keating Five thing, but let that pass. No conviction.)

And I would vote for McCain for President in preference to many Dems I could name--Obama, other morning glories.

But I think he's really screwed himself with this troop surge thing. He must have been aghast when Bush acted on his proposal--practically no experts seem to think it will "work" and McCain, as the WaPost pointed out, sounds like he's flailing when he's discussing Iraq these days.

If the surge doesn't turn things around in Baghdad, at least, McCain will spend the rest of the campaign trying to live it down. Too bad, if so--a capable American who missed his moment in politics years ago, shoved aside by the formerly all-powerful right-wingers in his party.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy is really on a tightrope. He just called Rumsfeld one of the worst defense secretaries in history, yet is also in favor of an escalation in U.S. troops in Iraq.

At 1:39 AM, Blogger Prendergast said...

Well, he's right about Rumsfeld, I'll give him that.

I remember that after the "Mission Accomplished" banner went up, some guys were writing these laudatory pieces about Rummy and his leadership qualities (eg, William Safire, conservative at the NYT, used his column to say "Hang in there, Rummie!") There was even a "love letter" biography about Rumsfeld, with an inspiring title I don't remember. I do know that you can get that book on remainder now for less than two bucks.

Of course you can get my book on remainder for even less than that, but my book is much more realistic.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Leah said...

McCain? You mean the guy who said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," and is trying to overturn Net Neutrality? Nah, I'll stick to less scary canidates. I kind of like my civil rights.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

Okay, leah, wait a minute, calm down. I'm not saying the guy was my hero, in terms of policy. All I'm saying is: he has (or had) the character to be a better U.S. President than George W. Bush.

I know that's not much of a compliment, given GWB's character and performance in office--but if the GOP had ever been serious about selecting an effective leader to be the nominee, it would have been McCain, not Bush.

The reason he didn't McC didn't get it: he wouldn't tow the Gingrich conservative political line; he couldn't raise hundreds of millions of dollars prior to the nomination (as could GWB), Bush had the evangelicals in his back pocket, and finally--talk radio conservatives had annointed Bush and attacked McC.

If McC happens to get the nomination this time around, Hillary will beat him. I stink at "political horserace" questions, but that's my take on that match-up.

At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain, as popular as he may be, has a long way to go. Rudy looks like a formidible candidate.

On another note, the AP guy's name is "Balz."

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Prendergast said...

That's really juvenile to point out that the AP guy's name is "Balz."

It was also the first thing I noticed about this story, and I busted up laughing. I thought it was tough going through life with the name "Prendergast." Balz. Heh-heh-heh...


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